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Friday, June 3, 2011

Movie Review: Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides     $$$ ½
137 Minutes
Starring: Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Geoffery Rush
Director: Rob Marshall

            Jack is back. (Shouldn’t there be a “Captain” in there somewhere?) The fourth installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise opens with Jack Sparrow attempting a rescue of Mr. Gibbs and needing to escape from the King’s own palace in London. This sequence contains all of the witty dialogue and clever trickery that we expect from this lovable scalawag.
            As it turns out, someone is London recruiting a crew and pretending to be Captain Jack Sparrow. Justifiably miffed that someone would sully his good name Jack investigates the hiring gala and is press-ganged into service for the legendary pirate – Black Beard.
            Pirates IV stands on its own as a story. Knowing the previous connection Jack has with Mr. Gibbs and the Black Pearl helps but isn’t necessary to enjoying the movie. The same is true for the rivalry between him and Captain Barbossa. The basic story line is that pretty much everyone is looking for the Fountain of Youth and Jack is the key to finding it.
            While there is plenty of action involving the characters attempts to trick and out maneuver one another, the story is about redemption. Of course, if you want to ignore that and just laugh and applaud at the comedic pirate antics then you will be amply entertained.
            If I’ve caught your attention with my comment about redemption then pay attention to Philip, (Sam Claflin), a man of faith, as he looks for a soul to save. Black Beard, Angelica, Syrena the mermaid, and even our beloved Jack Sparrow all have parts in this minor study about redemption.
            As much as I love stories about saving people or the search for salvation I thought this part of the storyline fell short. This may be why I didn’t have a better reaction to it than I did. Johnny Depp’s performance is perhaps a little restrained from his earlier appearances in this franchise. However, I think the biggest problem the film faces is that this is really Barbossa’s story. Jack is more fun and easier to like, but no mistake about it the real winner in this movie is Geoffrey Rush’s evil Captain Barbossa. Rush puts in the most heart-felt performance of the bunch as he copes with a different form of redemption; one more appropriate for a pirate.
            I gave Pirates a 3 ½ rating. This is a good movie and you’ll want to see it on the big screen with a matching high-definition sound system. I gave it the extra half star since it’s a 3-D film you may even want to make sure to see it that way; I caught it as a normal film and didn’t think the extra dimension would make it any better. It is a fun, visually exciting, well-acted, and well-directed movie that I expect most people to really like.  It isn’t something I would put down as the movie of the year though.

            Randy’s Rating System

$$$$   = Full Price    See this movie right away and pay full price, it’s worth it.
$$$     = Matinee      Catch this as a matinee or other discounted showing.
$$        = Discount     Wait until this movie reaches a discount theater near you.
$          = Rental         Wait until this movie reaches your local video rental outlet.
0          = No Sale       Don’t see this movie at any price.

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